When I launched my C&C 35 a few weeks ago, I didn't check the steering system and noticed once it was on the water that the wheel was relatively stiff and with pretty much no helm feel.
It's wheel steering with cable & sheaves. I inspected & lubricated the cable, chain and sheaves and all seems to be in good shape, and it's a little better but the steering is still pretty stiff, like the wheel lock is partially engaged.
At this point, I'm pondering a couple of options before I admit defeat and start writing checks to the boatyard.
First, I'm going to check that nothing is fouling the rudder. This will be a chilly proposition given that I'm in Lake Michigan, but I'd rather take a quick dip before I start disassembling things. I seem to recall that the workers at the yard might have tied a line from a tarp to the rudder.
Assuming that nothing is fouling the rudder, I assume the next step then becomes to separate the steering system into its component parts to try to isolate the stiffness.
Is this the best approach? Usually, I'd determine which part needed disassembly, then go after that, but right now, I'm at a loss where to begin disassembly
I've read a couple of articles on steering maintenance and figure that my next steps are:
- (afore-mentioned) rudder fouling check
- Wheel shaft -- remove chain, check for free wheel movement
- Sheaves -- check movement individually. They all look good in terms of alignment & cable movement
- Rudder -- check for free movement with cables removed
- Autopilot -- I have an old AH-4000 wheel pilot, but I pulled it off already and that made no difference. The AP itself seemed as fine as it gets. I can't really use it right now, though, as it struggles with small wheel adjustment and I'm afraid to burn up the motor.
What else should I check while I'm up to my elbows in grease?
Does anyone have any other thoughts on what the issue might be or where it might lie?
I'm reasonably handy, but the tight conditions and importance of working steering (I have and can use the emergency tiller, but would prefer not to) have me a little nervous to take this on for the first time.
All thoughts, suggestions, or even just requests for clarification are much appreciated.